I woke up this morning to the news that the Bulls have decided that they will hold onto Luol Deng for the remainder of this season, despite various trade rumors. Deng has been the rock in a beaten up Bulls team for several years now: Two-time All Star, scoring leader and the heart of this group. From a coaches perspective, it has to be really hard to see this guy go after all of the years he has given you and all of the minutes that he has racked up despite playing on only 1-2 really good teams. From a management perspective, it has to be hard to hold onto this guy given all of the minutes that he has racked up and his expiring contract.
This means that one of two things happened in the last couple of weeks: either Deng made it clear to management that he was not going to walk this offseason or Gar Forman and co. didn’t feel that they were getting the right price for him in a trade.
There has been a tremendous amount of speculation as to whether or not the Bulls were going to “Blow it up” or not after seeing D-Rose go down for a second consecutive year. There are questions whether or not he will ever be the same player and if the organization can build around him any longer or not. That leaves Gar with several tough decisions, one being what to do with Luol Deng.
In my mind, once Derrick went down there were three roads that the Bulls could have traveled down:
- Blow it up: Trade Deng for draft picks/expiring contracts, amnesty Boozer, finish the year as low as possible
- Keep their core and hope to add role players through the draft: Rose, Noah, Butler, Taj. Hope Bobcats continue to win giving the Bulls two picks between 10-20.
- Sit and wait for something to fall in their laps: Don’t make any sudden moves, stall the process as long as possible waiting for a gift to fall in their laps
It seems as if the Bulls’ front office has decided to open Door #3. They are not moving Deng this season, essentially leaving them with nothing if he decides to walk at the end of the year. From what I can tell, the front office is doing nothing hoping that they will somehow get lucky and the perfect situation is going to just come to them.
It is pretty clear that every Bulls fan is 100% down for a tanking season in order to acquire some higher draft picks in a year where the draft class is the best since ’03. It is pretty clear that every analyst and Chicago media outlet is game for the Bulls to blow it up and try and rebuild with a 2014 Free Agency class that is as good as it was in 2010.
So my question is, who is making these decisions?
Is it Derrick Rose’s camp? Is it Gar Forman? Is it Thibs? Are the Bulls that convinced that they “have more than enough to win in their locker room”? Are they that convinced that Derrick Rose will come back the same player? Are they that convinced that the Bobcats are going to have a pick higher than 10, giving them two 1st round choices?
I’ll tell you what I think. I think that Gar Forman is scared. I think he is looking at this situation with the glass half empty instead of the other way around. I think he is saying, “But what if…”. He is looking at the worst case scenario and being conservative because of it. I think that he is scared to make any moves because he doesn’t want to rely on chance in the future.
Right now, Gar has a team, that with DRose, is a top team in the East. They have won in the past and I think he, along with Thibs, wants to win with “this group”. I don’t think he wants to rebuild with the chance that a superstar falls to them in the draft, or the chance that a big name free agent decides to come to Chicago. He is comfortable where he is and I believe he is scared to make any changes.
Instead of seeing the potential, given his assets, he is seeing all of his assets disappear leaving him with nothing. I have been saying that this season/offseason will either allow Gar Forman to keep his job or it will make him look like the second coming of Jerry Krause. While I hope it is not the latter, I have a sense that it might come to that. I believe that Gar feels the heat of a very large Bulls Nation and believes that if he does nothing, this team will continue to be ‘close’ to winning.
While this is just one decision among many he will have to make, I see it as a hazard sign going forward. There are decisions that need to be made this offseason; decisions that will determine how the Chicago Bulls will be looked at for the next 10 years. I just hope that the one making these decisions is the General Manager. Not the coach, not the players, not the fans but the one who was hired to make these decisions.
I hope that at this time next year I’m not writing about a Bulls team that is rebuilding for the future.